If you’re suddenly finding it harder to attract top talent, it’s probably not due to a lack of effort on your part. As sectors in the A.I., biopharma, and computer engineering fields expand faster than ever before, and recruiting specialists with the skills and experience required to fill leadership positions is increasingly difficult. It’s unlikely that a respected senior data scientist is waiting around to be discovered – specialists like these have abundant opportunities and are, essentially, spoiled for choice when it comes to job openings. Rather than reaching out into the ether and hoping they respond, consider organizing a meetup that could attract these much sought-after professionals.
Meetups are sometimes confused with networking events or career fairs. These events also potentially yield some good candidates, but they aren’t the same as meetups. A meetup is a more intimate, industry-relevant gathering featuring some kind of lecture or presentation to spark conversations. The goal is to open up a dialogue about a topic, and to get people to share ideas. For example, a pharmaceutical company could host a meetup that features a talk by a prominent research scientist who has developed a new category of drug. Guests can include the company’s employees, recent university graduates, and anyone in the biopharma community that would be interested in the discussion and learning more about the company.
If the featured topic or presenter at a meetup is currently trending, and the event is well-marketed, there’s a good chance that potential candidates will show up. To take your recruiting to the next level, check out these reasons why meetups are most effective:
An in-person first impression is often better than a CV
It’s not hard to see why getting to know someone at a meetup gives you a much better idea of who a candidate is compared to skimming over their CV. While it’s sometimes easier to narrow down a group of candidates by the experience and education outlined in their CVs, gut instinct and chemistry go a long way.
Candidates who show up at your event are already interested
Taking the time to dress appropriately and traveling to an event shows considerably more dedication to getting acquainted with a company compared to answering an email. If you meet a potential candidate at your meetup, you can bet that their interest level in your company is quite high – making it easier to explore a possible job fit.
Informal exchanges in an event setting are more relaxed than interviews
Candidates tend to get nervous in interviews settings, and are therefore not as likely to clearly express themselves. During meetups, there’s less pressure to “perform” in front of an executive or hiring manager sitting behind a desk, letting candidates feel more at ease to be themselves.
Meetups offer candidates a better sense of a company’s culture
If you host a meetup at your company’s head office and invite employees, candidates will immediately get a feel of what your company is all about. Everything from the office decor, to the event program, and the catering gives candidates a better sense of life at the company compared to a phone call or email exchange.
Collecting data has never been easier
Meetups are a great way to generate interest in your recruitment strategy. If you request that guests RSVP for your meetup, you automatically obtain names and emails, as well as other information such as phone numbers and the companies invitees work for (if you request it in the sign-up form). With the right follow up email campaign, you just might win over the right candidate.
Employees and candidates have a chance to chat
Unlike in an interview setting, meetups give candidates the chance to meet the people that work for the company. Conversely, multiple people from the company – including hiring managers, executives, and other key players – can get to know the candidate. It’s an opportunity for candidates to engage in more realistic conversations with employees compared to more formal scenarios, and a great chance for several people to get a good read of the next potential recruit.
A successful meetup gets your name out there
Hosting meetups is not only a way to meet potential employees face-to-face, but it also helps to position your brand as an active member in your industry’s community. Call it part of your PR strategy, but keep in mind that a great public brand image can ignite more a lot more interest among possible candidates.
Before organizing a meetup, it’s important to put yourself in your target audience’s shoes and ask yourself if the event theme is interesting enough for someone to take the time out of their busy schedule. Fail to host a speaker with media clout, or a presentation about a hot new trend, and you might not attract the kind of talent you’re seeking. Keep in mind that a meetup is an opportunity to make a solid first impression, and position your brand as a thought-leader and community player.
A few ways to ensure it goes well is to plan well in advance, have a marketing strategy, offer wi-fi during the event, and enlist the help of a caterer – you won’t win people over with cold, bland pizza. Above all else, sparking conversations among guests should be the main focus, so encourage your employees to proactively approach guests, and make sure that everyone has enough business cards!
Attracting top talent requires a multi-faceted approach. From your digital strategy to maintaining relationships with your network, it’s important to be open to various approaches to recruiting candidates. Meetups do require an investment of time, money, and resources, however the return on investment can be seriously attractive if you do find the right candidates. Even if your first meetup doesn’t result in finding your ideal person, the event will surely establish your company as an active member of your community – certainly a good thing!
About the Author
Miriam Groom is VP of Sales and Marketing at Groom and Associates, a recruitment agency specialized in IT recruitment.